Venice, Italy

On arrival in Venice on Friday the 27th, I immediately bought my over-night train ticket for the following night to Budapest. Then right as I walked outside the train station, boom, Grand Canal. This city is bar far the most unique place I have ever been. There are basically no cars or regular streets in Venice (there is a mainland part that is like a regular city, but I never went there), canals and water everywhere, tons of gondolas, water-buses and water-taxis, street peddlers mainly selling Carnival themed items (lots of masks and glass ornaments), lots of churches, cafes, gelato and pizzerias.

Luckily I had been smart enough to write down the directions to my hostel that were on hostel world, otherwise I probably would have never found it. Part of the directions went something like this, “walk ‘straight’ for about 10 minutes, cross a bridge, go through a square, cross a small bridge, pass a church, turn right at a big bridge, look for this building number and the hostel, A Venice Fish, has its own private bridge.” Different then any other directions I have ever had to follow, but it got me right there.

This hostel ending up adding basically a 3rd main category of types of hostels I have stayed in. There have been the ones that are basically hotels (with basic receptions, lounge areas, and room, but just with lots more people in the rooms), and there are the ones that are a little smaller and located above Pubs, but still somewhat like a normal hotel (especially in the UK). But this one was a lot different and thus creates its own category. As I was buzzed into this one and walked up to the second floor, I was very confused. There was nothing close to resembling a reception desk or area. I could not tell who was working or just hanging out and staying there. After a little bit, a man of about 30 (Nimo, who I would later find much, much more about) approached me and checked me in on the guest computer and showed me my room.

I was led to my room through another room and mine had about 6 beds in it. This hostel basically consisted of one floor of a building, which had a main dining/hang out room, 4 large bedrooms that were all connected together and without individual doors or locks, and a kitchen. I had checked in at 4, and so it was not very busy yet, but after a couple hours of exploring the city, I came back to a full hostel with people everywhere in the main lounge room. I found my self a seat and started to socialize. I probably told my story of what I was doing and where I was going to 30 different people in an hour’s time, while also hearing all of their stories. I was also surprised to see that almost everyone there was English speaking. I mainly talked to a couple from Vancouver, a couple guys from Texas, and then a U Colorado Vball player, a girl from Virginia and one from NY (the 3 of who I would spend most of the rest of my time in Venice with).

We then were prepared a free dinner by the hostel staff (pretty good pasta). I continued to hang out and socialize with people, and then Nimo (the guy in charge, and who had been getting drunk while making dinner), announced that he would be going out to a couple bars soon and that anyone who wants to should join. I heard from other people that he basically does this every night, and that I should definitely go. I figured it would be a good way to see what the town had to offer for a nightlife. A group of people and I went out to a couple bars with him, we didn’t drink very much, but it was a very fun night. At one of the bars I met a guy who used to work in Burlington as a tennis pro and knew Mt. Pleasant well. At another bar we went to, the ceiling was covered with bras. Turns out that if you (girls obviously…) give them your bra to put up, they give you a free t-shirt. It was a very good decision to go out with Nimo and see a little bit of the town, but he is crazy, good crazy though.

One last paragraph about the hostel, but mainly a run-down of this Nimo character. He is a very interesting man. Very, very friendly and it seemed he would do anything for you. He had a very interesting way of carrying himself too, as well as his mannerisms. He was described best to me to me as very Jack Sparrow like. After making my review of the hostel on hostelworld and looking at some of the others, I realized that almost every single person gave awesome reviews and mainly just commented about Nimo and how much they loved him. He was a little bit creepy though and I am pretty sure he probably sleeps with a girl staying in the hostel about every night…  Good guy though, haha.

Ok, so back to actual Venice. After our free breakfast Saturday morning (eggs and such prepared by Nimo), the 3 girls I spoke of earlier and I headed out to explore the city for the day and we purchased day passes to ride the water-buses around. We took a nice little tour around the city first, and then went out to the city cemetery. This was an island by itself and the only cemetery for the island portions of Venice, meaning there wasn’t going to be enough room for the big Venice population to have spots. Therefore, once you died, you were buried there for 10 years, then dug up and cremated so someone else could have your spot, unless you had lots and lots of money to keep it. It was the coolest cemetery I have ever been to, and much of the plots/tombs were above ground (like New Orleans).

From there we took a canal ride to San Polo, the center and main district of Venice. Located here was the main tourist attraction, Piazza San Marco. It is a huge crowded square, that houses two of Venice’s chief buildings; the Campanile (tallest structure in Venice, once was a lighthouse) and the Basilica di San Marco. The Basilica is a huge exotic cathedral, which was modeled on Constantinople’s Church of the 12 Apostles.

Then it was time for some grub (Italian pizza and gelato for me), and then more site seeing. I split up from the girls at this point and did some exploring on my own. I think I got to all the main places that I had heard of and that my book said were must sees. But really it was just amazing being able to walk around the city, so unique and different then any place I have ever been, I loved it.

Oh and I did have to check out of the hostel at 11am this day, but I talked Nimo into letting me keep my big bag there until that night when my train left. Very, very helpful not having to carry it around all day. I went back to the hostel a couple times throughout the day, it was located in a great location, to check on my stuff and also talk to some people, and then I killed some time there at the end of they day before my train at 9:20pm.

I then got on my over-night train to Budapest, and it went pretty well for being my first really long ride (12 hours). It was quite interesting though because I got my passport checked and stamped 4 different times. I only went into 3 new countries though (Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary), so I don’t know what the 4th stamp was for. One time the guy checking it called someone on his phone and was reading stuff off of my passport and was obviously checking to see if I was illegal or wanted or something. At the Hungarian/Slovenian border they had drug-sniffing dogs come on and also a group of police who checked all the panels in the ceiling and on the sides of the train cars (I don’t know if for drugs, people or what).  I then arrived into Budapest, Hungary at about 9 in the morning to spend two nights there before heading to Slovakia.

2009 Nation Count- 13 (US, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary).

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